Tag

zanzibar

Browsing

I am probably more proud of these pictures than any other I have taken. Maybe it is the fact that it was of Maasai or that I sent them home with a token for their families…

The Maasai kept the Instax photos, but I get to keep these memories forever too.

I will never forget Fathima walking on the beach with just a month to go before her baby’s birth. The smile she gave when she thanked me for the photo she would be able to show her child one day ♥️

…and Stonetown! I wish I had spent more time here and could wander the streets to capture all the beautiful doors. I hope that I can return one day to finish this INSTAX photo project.

Plus when you take a bunch of photos you get to play with them right there on the beach 🙂

Oh and this is my black Instax Mini with its pink cover 🙂

Here it is, the post I’ve been wanting to write the minute we got back from Zanzibar…

We landed at the smallest airport I have ever seen. Smaller than the Maldives’ airport… and that should tell you that it is TINY! We all piled into busses to be ferried to the main building and had to grab immigration cards. Then we queued up to go through passport control. Then we hit the pavement…

We found our shuttle service and made the hour drive to Reef and Beach Resort.What should’ve been a 2 lane road was really 1.5 lanes wide and passing vehicles seemed to have a fast and loose rule of who chickens out first… At first I closed my eyes each time the driver overtok a vehicle, but soon realised that everybody has adopted this mad way of driving.

Finally at the hotel…

At the hotel we were checked in, shown our rooms and escorted to the dining hall. I will not forget the first meal, fish and crab – with a local version of vetkoek. I scoffed those vetkoeks down – no Marmite.

After lunch hubby thought it would be nap time but I dragged him to the bar on the jetty. We sat and watched the tide go out and kite surfers on the horizon – and finally the sun setting behind the palm trees. It was a beautiful sunset!

The next morning

The next morning we took an early morning swim and it was low tide. It is very weird to see the bay drain. It reminded me of when we were on Phi Phi Island (Thailand).

Then we got the bad news and I spent the rest of the day organising our return to South Africa.

Why we chose the Reef & Beach Resort…

Usually we would stay at 4 and 5 star hotels, but this time I wanted to be off the beaten track. This hotel, was off-off-off the beaten track. No other other hotels close by and very few beach walkers.

I really actually enjoyed staying at this resort. I don’t mind that it was Italian run, because it felt more rustic – and there were plenty of locals around.

 

I didn’t expect to see Maasai in Zanzibar, so it was a bonus. I first spotted a Maasai walking on our trip from the airport and then at the hotel.
The Maasai people, as you know, are known as brave warriors that would go as far as take a kill from lions. They are born hunters and learn to use quite primitive (but effective) weapons. Their traditional clothing always include red, but also some blue – and consists of 2 sarongs, a belt to hang their weapon from and sandals.
The first full day on the island, after we received the news of my father-in-law’s passing, I spent my time taking photos and chatting to the beach walkers. Then I met Ngulele, one of the Maasai. He noticed that I walked around on my own with 2 cameras and he stopped to ask if all was OK. I briefly chatted to him and expressed my wish to take photos of the Maasai at the resort – and asked if he could organize this. He quickly agreed.
That night I was sitting outside watching the sunset when he stopped to chat with me. He told me that he goes home once a year depending on when the low season is at the hotel. He usually only goes home for a month at a time. He said that most of the guys did the same and that we can take the photo the following night.
The following night they all arrived. The excitedly chatted to each other and loved that I specially asked to take photos of them. However, next moment one of the Maasai was snapping pictures while I got to be in the picture holding a traditional weapon. These pictures were taken after the sun set… so I’m super chuffed they came out so well!

That photo session with the Maasai, was the most memorable moment of the trip to Zanzibar.

After that I took photos of some of the Maasai (as I found them in daylight) with my Instax. A thank you that they could give to someone special at home.
It has been more than a month since I’ve seen the beach. Zanzibar feels like a lifetime ago, yet I’ve not posted all I want to tell.
One of the outings we signed up for was to tour a spice farm. It wasn’t a spectacular tour – but it was interesting. We arrived at one of these farms for lunch and was escorted into a half-closed structure and sat on the floor on grass mats with the food bowls in front of us. We all hungrily dug into rice, fish, a vegetable stew and chips.

Spices

I never wonder where my spices come from. I buy them in a bottle or packet at the supermarket – like any normal person would do. However, now that I’ve seen the spices in their natural growing form, I can appreciate the intricacies of the grow and harvest periods.
It was quite surprising to see just how ordinary some of the spices looked in their natural form – and how fragrant they were! They break leaves, branches and whatnot for you to smell… very interesting!

Butterfly Man in the coconut tree

The coconut part of the tour was my favorite. The Butterfly Man entertained the group with an ascend up a palm – whilst singing.
The Butterfly Man was quite an older gentleman, so his antics up a tree was quite astounding. He displayed great acrobatic skills and topped it off with a melodic tune.
After his performance we all received a coconut to eat and drink from… and as we all know, I love coconut!

What can you buy on your spice tour?

  1. Spices
  2. Teas and coffees mixed with spices
  3. Perfumes & soaps

Why you should go on a spice tour in Zanzibar

It’s not like you would be able to do spice tours in South Africa… and it is something different. I wouldn’t do it as a standalone tour, but would combine it with a Prison Island and Stone Town Tour on one day. The spice tour with lunch is about 2.5 hours.

Lastly, watch this video – narrow roads with action next to it!

Travel is what makes life exciting. The unexpected delays and surprises along the way make a trip memorable.

 

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. Saint Augustine

When I plan a trip I do my research. I have an itinerary of things and places I really want to see, but I leave time to stop and take in everything. I stop to take photos of anything that catches my eye…and sometimes hubby have to remind me we are catching a bus, train or plane.

In Zanzibar, what I haven’t told anyone, the day after we landed my father-in-law passed away. I spent half the day organising our return for a funeral. Once I knew I could get hubby home and what time we had left to explore the island I booked trips. I squeezed what I could…

Landed Tuesday, Bad news Wednesday and fly back Saturday

Jip, you read that right… we basically had 2.5 days in Zanzibar. We had travel insurance so I’m still waiting to find out what we will get back.

Excursions

  • Stone Town
  • Prison Island
  • Spice Tour
  • Safari Blue

We went on excursions for 2 full days. I was so jet lagged and emotionally drained but pushed to see and do as much as possible. I came back with just over 600 photos and some included the Maasai (whole other story).

To and from the excursions I snapped a few pictures.

 

What I liked about Zanzibar

  • It was laid back
  • Inexpensive
  • Friendly people
  • Beautiful sights

What I wish I could’ve changed

  • I wish I could speak Swahili, if I had my dad there he would’ve sorted me.
  • I wanted to ask the Maasai so many questions but simply ran out of time.
  • Stayed longer so I could see more and get to know the people better.

The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. Gilbert K. Chesterton

There are so many day trips to choose from when you are on holiday in Zanzibar. There is Stone Town, snorkeling off Mneba Island, visiting a local town where they build Dhows and many more. However, there is one that everyone talks about…

Safari Blue!

Every tour operator will tell you that his Safari Blue tour is the original one, but most probably they are all the same. It is a full day excursion on a dhow or boat to a sandbank, snorkeling and then eating your heart out.

Some tour operators have their own snorkeling gear ready to go and others you have to stop at a local guy that has the gear. We take our own snorkels and masks… just saying, because some of the people that went on the trip struggled with the gear.

…and off we go!

We arrived at the boats around 10-ish (low tide) and had to wade through the water – and over sea urchins. Some of the women complained, but I thought it was awesome because I got to take this photo 🙂

…out in the big blue sea

I still think it is amazing that sandbanks appear at low tide in the middle of nowhere in the ocean – and I’ve seen it a few times. You can literally see the sandbank being swallowed by the sea as the tide rises…and it is amazing.

You never have to invite me twice to jump off on a sandbank for a swim and a fruit picnic. When I did all that I was in the water taking pictures of dhows sailing by.

…snorkel

I can snorkel, but don’t drop me off in the sea… I want to be close to sand. I have nightmares when I’m in the sea and can’t stand (thanks to a near drowning incident in Thailand).

Hubby dived off the dhow and snorkeled while I sat in the boat feeling a little green with camera in hand. I will still load the images on Instagram under the #ZanzibarGoddess tag.

400 years and a crayfish craving

Next up we saw the 400 year old Boabab tree on an island.I’ve seen some big baobabs, but this one, even fallen over, is HUGE! It even has a little dam in the middle.

Then we went off for our seafood lunch (on the same island). This was hubby’s only thing he wanted to do on the whole trip, eat crayfish. He ate 4 whole crayfish by himself!

The island life is for me

While everyone was shopping around and swimming I wandered around with my camera as per usual and snapped this image of fish hanging on one of the empty shops.

Gone shopping on the beach….

Look at the oar! Using materials that would’ve ended up on a landfill somewhere.

…and this is how a dhow looks with its sails down.

At the end of the day, as the sun barely punched through the clouds, we sailed to Zanzibar’s shore and made the hour’s drive to the hotel.

We booked a tour of Stone Town – but I was really disappointed in the guide. He literally ran a straight line and even with my requests of seeing more of the famous doors and sights he kept on running…

Stone Town is the old part of Zanzibar City. It has a maze-like narrow alleys lined by houses and shops. The architecture offers a nice mix of Arab, Indian, European and Africa – making it really interesting. Main building materials include coral stone, which after all these years are crumbling…seeing less permanent residents.

The buildings in Stone Town really are gems if you love photography. The doors of which I only saw a few and none were painted (sad face)…were spectacular. I love every door – even the simple local doors…but my heart leapt when I saw the really ornate Arab and Indian doors.

What to look out for when you are in Stone Town

  • Doors, beautiful doors!
  • Don’t lean on the buildings, they give off a dusty substance.
  • Don’t take pictures of the people…
  • Take lots of pictures of the buildings – they are really spectacular, but simple.
  • The streets are really narrow and bicycles and scooters share this with pedestrians.
  • The house where Freddy Mercury was born – I was not impressed.

Interesting fact from the locals…

  • They don’t offer money for those out of work. Old people and children do get some support from the government.

Jambo, jambo!

I recently traveled to Zanzibar with dear hubby. We thought 4 hours flying, beach, why not…

He who wanders around by day a lot, learns a lot.
Atangaye na jua hujuwa.
(Kiswahili proverb from Tanzania)

We booked an All Inclusive holiday through Mango and it was a really good deal. Plus it meant the Rand could do what it wants (and a certain president could flap his lips as per usual) and we wouldn’t have unforeseen exchange rate issues.

Money

  • Get US dollars – in small bills. $1 dollar notes are A-OK for pretty much anything tip related.
  • Even if you get quoted in Tanzanzian Shillings you can pay in Dollars and get change in shillings. Exchange conversions are sometimes a bit loose and fast.
  • Running out of Dollars and still want to tip? No problem, have your Rands handy. They love a R10 or R20 more than no tip – and it’s worth more than Tanzanian Shillings.
  • On Mango you also still have to buy your drinks and food in the air – and you pay in Rands.
  • Credit cards are handy at hotels but useless when you buy from the locals. You will also be charged a 5% transaction fee.
  • You can exchange money at the airport after landing… I don’t trust airport currency rates.

Not all tour companies are equal

We used 2 different tour companies and I can say without a doubt that some will herd you around like cattle and others will actually go the extra mile.

  • Speak to the Beach boys, sometimes they are licensed with licensed taxis and boats. However if they fail to deliver… and not licensed, you are screwed.
  • Do go on a Blue Safari. It is amazing! Check the weather. It is no fun on a dhow when it hops over waves instead of gracefully gliding.
  • Go off-menu for tours. Request a tour of a local village combined with a visit to a market.

Chat to the staff

When you are friendly to the staff they will share some local secrets… and let you know what to look out for or which trips are really worth the money. They will also tell you more about their customs and food without you having to ask.

I was lucky enough to chat to a Maasai named Ngulele who got his friends together for a few photos. These warriors still wear their traditional clothes, most don’t speak English – but… meeting these friendly Maasai was certainly a highlight of my trip. I will write a post on them – so look out for it! (The Maasai generally take on the role as security staff at hotels.)

Buying souvenirs

Negotiate. Always negotiate. When you buy more than 1 item informal traders will offer discount already.

Support the informal traders, they have the same stuff as the formal shops – and they are usually cheaper.

Other stuff to take on your Zanzibar holiday

  • Waterless hand sanitizer
  • or wet wipes
  • lots of it… pack it on outings even.
  • Sunscreen
  • Mozzie repellant
  • Shoes to walk over coral
  • Snorkeling gear

How would I rate Zanzibar

  • Compared to traveling to Thailand and Maldives, Zanzibar offers great value.
  • The beaches are OK once you get past the coral but Maldives’ beaches are much better.
  • However the people in Zanzibar are friendlier than Maldivians and they definitely don’t bug you to buy stuff the whole time like the Thais.
  • The Maldives is much further but prettier.
  • If I had to choose between Thailand and Zanzibar it would not be Thailand.
  • You can drink beer outside of the resorts in Zanzibar but in the Maldives it is a little more strict. In Thailand the party goes 24/7.

I really loved Zanzibar. It is a beautiful country with friendly people and there is a lot to explore and do. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Don’t set sail using somebody else’s star.
Asisa firie nyota ya mwenzio.
(Kiswahili proverb from Tanzania)

I will also share the items that was really useful on this trip. Like these:

  • I took a a 3/4 sleeve BOODY shirt and wore it almost all the time.
  • Ugly shoes that water just streamed out of – because my “plakkies” got sucked down by the sand and kept dismantling itself.

Some stories from a trip need to be told separately. I didn’t walk around with all my cameras all the time, but when I did there were some amazing opportunities.

The journey that I have undertaken, meeting people from all walks of life and learning from them, has been my biggest achievement. Aamir Khan

I was walking on the beach with my FujiFilm (this camera has been to Europe, Egypt, Thailand, Mozambique and the Maldives) and Instax Mini when I saw Fathima picking up sea grass at around 6pm (low tide). She was etched against the sky and sea in her colourful garb and I asked if I could take a photo of her and in return I would give her a photo like the Instax photo I was holding.

Fathima held onto the instant Instax photo and smiled as she started appearing in the frame. Her smile widened and she said “this photo she will show to her baby one day and tell him/her about the day she had it taken”. By the time I took the digital photo of her holding her photo she was smiling from ear to ear.

I am glad I took my Instax to the beach so I could give her a special photograph for her baby.

I saw Fathima the last morning we were in Zanzibar. She was harvesting sea grass again and when she spotted me she waved and yelled, “Hello Susann, it is me Fathima”. I waved back and took a picture of Fathima etched against the sun.

I know what you think…

In Zanzibar the people do not have that much and I didn’t see many smartphones. This woman by chance stumbled on someone that just happened to have an Instax and could give her a photo on the spot.

When you play the flute in Zanzibar all Africa dances. (Zanzibar Proverb)

I’m going to shock you, make you want to climb in my suitcase and cry because you will be stuck in the middle of winter when I’m soaking up some sun – just keep reading.

Zanzibar here I come!

My husband’s birthday is coming up and to celebrate we are going to Zanzibar! We loved our island holiday in the Maldives so much that we wanted to do it all again – but somewhere different and close…and not Mauritius.

No matter how fast moonlight runs, daylight catches up. (Zanzibar Proverb)

We are staying at a very basic hotel right next to the water. We just want to sleep in the beach bungalow and the rest of the time eat, drink, swim and go on excursions. We aren’t those people that sleep off a babelaas until after lunch – we are out and about. Sometimes it is me dragging a sleepy husband out of bed to take a swim and walk around with a camera or it is husband wanting to eat.

I travel lightly…

This is the shocking part of my travel post – I only travel with carry-on luggage! I can pack for a 10 day holiday in a carry-on suitcase and take everything I need and come back with souvenirs.

I heard gasps of disbelief and jaws hitting the floor…

It is true, it takes some creative packing skills and planning to pack for a holiday in a small suitcase, but it takes away the stress of the airline “losing your suitcase” and you not having clothes. In my mind, that makes perfect sense.

I make packing lists – and I promise you, I have not forgotten a single thing I wanted to take. It is the best planning tool.

What am I most excited about?

Taking photos! Lots of photos will be taken. I want photos of Dhows sailing, some Masai etched against the blue water and Zanzibar doors.

I am also excited about the day we will be spending on a dhow sailing to 2 islands. I might get sea sick but I will take so many photos of that dhow it will look like the best thing I’ve ever done.

Then we are also going to Stone Town because I have this obsession about doors and photographing them with my Instax camera. I am drooling over photos of these Zanzibar doors and my husband has quietly resigned himself to his fate.

The water… I love the sea. I can stay in the sea for hours. I love to swim and luckily so does my hubby. (Have I ever told you that my hubby was a surfer in Ballito when he was younger?)

The only thing I hear my husband mumble is crayfish, seafood, swim – make it happen…and I will make it happen – in Zanzibar!